A Stroll through Samcheong-dong (삼청동)

Yesterday, I decided to head north of the river and explore Seoul’s Samcheong-dong (삼청동) neighbourhood.

Located just north of Anguk Station and the traditional area of Insadong, Samcheong-dong boasts a number of artsy cafés, boutiques, and restaurants.

Despite the sweltering heat and humidity, I decided to head out for a quick jaunt – and by “quick jaunt”, I mean that I walked across the city from Gwangjang Market! It was worth it though, since it was the first time Seoul’s been sunny for a while, in this summer that many are dubbing “the longest monsoon season ever”.

Anyways, here are some photos I snapped up during my stroll:

(PS: check out my review of Café W.E., a fantastic Korean-Western fusion dessert café located in Samcheong-dong)

Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁)

Walking past Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) on my way from Gwangjang Market

A bicycle outside a cafe

A bicycle outside a cafe

Wall painting near the southern entrance to Samcheong-dong

Wall painting near the southern entrance to Samcheong-dong

Typical Samcheong-dong café fare: ice cream waffles and other sweet treats!

Typical Samcheong-dong café fare: ice cream waffles and other sweet treats!

Samcheong-dong (4 of 7)

Graffitied doors on a traditional Korean house (hanok) restaurant

Graffitied doors on a traditional Korean house (hanok) restaurant

Cute clothes

Cute clothes

Jewelry on sale

Jewelry on sale

The tree-lined street of Samcheong-dong

The tree-lined street of Samcheong-dong

Jewelry boutique having a sale

Jewelry boutique having a sale

Bus #11, which takes you to downtown Seoul, Gyeonbokgung Palace, Seoul Station, and Namdaemun Market.

Bus #11, which takes you to downtown Seoul, Gyeonbokgung Palace, Seoul Station, and Namdaemun Market.

Interesting sculpture near the entrance to Samcheong-dong

Interesting sculpture near the entrance to Samcheong-dong

Random storefront

Random storefront

Animal knick-knacks

Animal knick-knacks

Animal knick-knacks

Animal knick-knacks

Art gallery

Art gallery

Funky Starbucks-inspired set - they were cheap! Too bad the gallery was closed.

Funky Starbucks-inspired set – they were cheap! Too bad the gallery was closed.

At the gallery

At the gallery

Alleyway in Samcheong-dong

Alleyway in Samcheong-dong

Art on an alley wall

Art on an alley wall

Stairs leading to a restaurant

Stairs leading to a restaurant

French restaurant

French restaurant

Samcheong-dong (18 of 39) Samcheong-dong (19 of 39)

Giant ring outside of a shop

Giant ring outside of a shop

Locals browsing in a boutique

Locals browsing in a boutique

Cute clothes

Cute clothes

"Vintage" clothes

“Vintage” clothes

Incredibly over-priced "vintage" shop

Incredibly over-priced “vintage” shop

Hello Kitty Café

Hello Kitty Café

Chocolate shop

Chocolate shop

Samcheong-dong (27 of 39) Samcheong-dong (28 of 39)

Clothes for display outside

Clothes for display outside

A little shrine to the Virgin Mary outside?

A little shrine to the Virgin Mary outside?

Cute buidling

Cute buidling

Designer space

Designer space

Samcheong-dong (33 of 39) Samcheong-dong (34 of 39)

Retro Pie shop

Retro Pie shop

Samcheong-dong (36 of 39)

Café W.E. - Korean and Western fusion, featuring things like sweet red bean fondue and hotteok pancakes!

Café W.E. – Korean and Western fusion, featuring things like sweet red bean fondue and hotteok pancakes!

Artsy storefront

Artsy storefront

Artsy storefront

Artsy storefront

Samcheong-dong is located downtown, right next to Seoul’s famous Gyeongbokgong Palace.

Most stores open around 10:30am-11:00am and close around 7:00pm-10:00pm.

Directions:

• Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 1) – 10 minutes on foot
• Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3, Exit 5) – 20 minutes on foot

Map of Samcheong-dong (Photo: Visit Korea)

Map of Samcheong-dong (Photo: Visit Korea)

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Seoul’s Gwangjang Market (광장시장)

Today I decided to take a trip to Korea’s first market: Gwangjang Shijang (Gwangjang Market – 광장시장).

The fact that I consider myself an avid shop-a-holic, plus having lived here for a year means that I was long overdue for a visit to this downtown Seoul staple.

While markets like Dongdaemun and Namdaemun seem to get a lot of attention, Gwangjang appears to go quietly unnoticed. Many friends of mine had never even heard of it, despite having lived here for quite some time.

Gwangjang’s main draws are its fabrics and textiles (many of which are supplied wholesale to other more well-known markets, in addition to being used to make Gwangjang’s famous hanboks) and its street food.

At one of the smaller entrances to the market

At one of the smaller entrances to the market

A hanbok store's front display

A hanbok store’s front display

Fabrics for sale

Fabrics for sale

Gwangjang Market (4 of 25)

Walking through the market

Walking through the market

Gift sets made from rice cakes and other snacks

Gift sets made from rice cakes and other snacks

Gwangjang Market (7 of 25) Gwangjang Market (8 of 25)

The top eats at Gwangjang Market are bindatteok (빈대떡) – fried mung bean pancakes, and bibimbap (비빔밥) – mixed veggies served on top of rice with spicy chili paste.

Bibimbap is one of Korea’s signature dishes, and a favourite among international visitors. However, it’s not commonly seen as a street food, mainly because of the large space needed for its assembly.

Bindatteok is a heavy, oily dish, served best with makgeolli (막걸리) – Korean traditional rice wine. It’s also best eaten on cold, rainy days. It’s comfort food, for sure!

However, today was one of the most hot and humid days of the year, so I didn’t order any bindatteok. I wasn’t feeling hungry enough for bibimbap either, so I just looked ^_^

A woman selling mung bean pancake (bindatteok - 빈대떡)

A woman selling mung bean pancake (bindatteok – 빈대떡)

People eating at the different vendors

People eating at the different vendors

Gwangjang Market (11 of 25) Gwangjang Market (12 of 25)

Women selling pumpkin and sweet red bean porridge from giant cauldron-looking things

Women selling pumpkin and sweet red bean porridge from giant cauldron-looking things

Gwangjang Market (14 of 25)

More hanboks

More hanboks

Gwangjang Market (16 of 25)

A man eating mixed veggies on rice (bibimbap - 비빔밥)

A man eating mixed veggies on rice (bibimbap – 비빔밥)

Gwangjang Market (18 of 25)

The various ingredients for bibimbap (비빔밥) are laid out. I got the impression that you get to pick and choose.

The various ingredients for bibimbap (비빔밥) are laid out. I got the impression that you get to pick and choose.

Tteok, tteok; I love tteok!

Tteok, tteok; I love tteok!

More gift sets - the octopus one caught my eye!

More gift sets – the octopus one caught my eye!

A woman making spicy fermented cabbage (kimchi - 김치),

A woman making spicy fermented cabbage (kimchi – 김치),

More women selling bindatteok (mung bean pancake).

More women selling bindatteok (mung bean pancake).

Gwangjang Market (24 of 25)

A woman selling various cosmetics and household products

A woman selling various cosmetics and household products

Well, I won’t lie – Gwangjang Market didn’t really blow me away. I think if I’d tried the bindatteok or bibimbap I would’ve “gotten more” out of the experience. Otherwise, it just seemed like your typical Korean market.

I’d stay it’s still worth a visit, though!

Info:

  • Hours: 7:00am to 10:00pm, although some vendors may open or close later/earlier.
  • Subway: Jongno 5(o)-ga (Line 1, Exit 8) or Euljiro 4(sa)-ga (Lines 2 and 5, Exit 4)
  • Websitehttp://www.kwangjangmarket.co.kr/  (Korean only)
A map of Seoul's Jongno and Dongdaemun areas - Gwangjang Market is in the top-left corner (Photo: Visit Seoul)

A map of Seoul’s Jongno and Dongdaemun areas – Gwangjang Market is in the top-left corner (Photo: Visit Seoul)

A Trip to Ani Land (the Studio Ghibli Store) in COEX

Today I visited a store I’d been wanting to go to for a long time… “Ani Land” in COEX, Seoul’s biggest mall. Ani Land carries collectibles from Studio Ghibli, a Japanese animation company with a cult following. Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Howl’s Moving Castle are all my favourite Ghibli films.

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Outside of the store…

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…And inside

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Everything was SO expensive though! I was really disappointed. Even the keychains cost upwards of $15. Everything was imported from Japan.

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The photos are poor quality because I’m still not 100% comfortable taking pictures inside specialty shops like this. I forget that I’m in Asia, where it’s okay to do that. In Canada the manager will usually have a hissy fit – buy something or get out.

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A whole cabinet filled with Kiki’s Delivery Service stuff. I wanted the mug!! It’s the same one Kiki buys in the movie.IMG_0991

Lots of figurines… Spirited Away on the far right

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Stupid expensive stuffed animals. I wanted a stuffed Gigi (the black cat) from Kiki’s Delivery Service, but the smallest one was $13; the regular one was $30. Just couldn’t justify it.

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Not Ghibli related, but still cute!

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Giant Totoro in the window

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More Totoro stuff

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Totoro Wreath

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A giant beer in the movie theatre lobby as I was walking out of the Ghibli store

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Finished my shopping trip with an udon + sushi set. Ready 5 mins after I ordered, not bad.

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The planner was only $12 so I treated myself. So cute!!!IMG_1007 IMG_1008 IMG_1009

….And a Totoro one for a fellow Ghibli-obsessesd girlfriend back home

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